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Constipation:
Diet Tips for Relief and Prevention

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Increase fiber intake slowly. Rapid increase in dietary fiber can cause gas and discomfort. When increasing fiber, be sure to also increase liquids.

You should have 20-35 grams of fiber daily. Below are some examples of foods containing fiber.

Food Grams
Pinto beans, 3/4 cup 10.4
Wheat bran cereal, 1 oz. 10
Banana 3.8
Prunes, 3 3.5
Apple, small 2.8

To Prevent Constipation:

Certain foods and drinks, and the proper amount of exercise can help alleviate the symptoms of constipation.

Foods and drinks:

  • Eat high-fiber foods such as raisins, raw vegetables, salads, bran cereals, whole-grain bread and fresh fruit.

  • Eat prunes or figs.

  • Eat oatmeal, applesauce, legumes (dried beans) and barley, to soften the stool.

  • Flax meal can be purchased already ground. Or, you can buy the seeds and grind them yourself. Flax meal is a good source of natural fiber and health-promoting Omega-3 fatty acids. It can be stirred into or sprinkled on foods.

  • Drink plenty of liquids—at least eight glasses a day. Water and herbal tea are best. Juices are not recommended, nor are caffeinated drinks, as your body can become dependent on these in the long run.

  • Drink several cups of warm-to-hot liquid in the morning. Herbal teas or water work well.

Exercise:

  • Do daily exercise, like a brisk half-hour walk.

  • Visit the toilet for 15 minutes in the morning, even if you are unable to have a bowel movement. This relaxes and stimulates your digestive system.

  • Sit quietly for 15 minutes after eating a meal to aid in digestion.

Women's Health Care Center
University of Washington Medical Center-Roosevelt
June 2002

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